Addiction Cycle- Kevin’s story
Our Society: Addiction and More Uncovered- Ch 11
Hear the voice of everyday people — collection of stories and experiences
by Gabriella Kőrösi, PhD, MN, RN
Dr. Frazier Beatty was telling me about Kevin during our phone conversation. Kevin lost his job with a 6-figure income and over time he has changed. He tells me that Kevin has an incredible story. Dr. Beatty told me that his friend works for the VA, he has been in prison twice, he works now to help veterans and other people. Later I had a chance to connect with Kevin and he told me more about his life. Kevin sent me this picture:
Kevin describes his beautiful wife Shelia as an instrumental person that kept him in the quintessential epitome “tough love”! I was talking to Kevin on the phone. Kevin does have an incredible story to tell. He went through a lot in his life and was able to turn it all around and do good. Kevin has been having issues with addictions in the past 30 years. He told me he wants to be as transparent as possible telling his story and chose to fully disclose his identity. He is very kind and humble throughout our conversation. He calls me Dr. Gabriella. He is the first person who called me that since I just received my PhD recently. He first engaged using illicit substances when he was 16 years old. He used alcohol and marijuana before, then he started to use crack cocaine. Cocaine led to this 30 year of addiction with intermittent sobriety. Addiction brought Kevin legal issues, unemployment, it cost him a marriage, loss of home, jobs, incarceration.
Kevin is a Marine and also has a good level of education and this made things even more difficult for him. Being a military veteran, he had a lot of pride and humility to reach out for help. Kevin started to use cocaine because he was drawn to the subculture that comes with it. The cocaine took a tremendous hold on him. Once he crossed a threshold from intermittent addiction, there is no way to go back through the door he adds. Have to accept it to face the demon. He remembers that he had a motor vehicle accident in his senior year in college, he was an athlete, playing basketball and was getting a scholarship. He was 22 years old. Because of the accident a young lady lost her life and lost her child. After the accident Kevin went through clinical depression and self-sabotage related to lack of self-esteem and lack of value. Whenever Kevin would get to a good spot he would go and revert back to a bad behavior. It took him 25 years and a lot of clinical hours of therapy to overcome this problem. The irony of this is he tells me that now he is a peer support specialist in the state of Michigan, and he is helping military veterans doing the same thing that he had to work through. This work has been a wonderful experience. Nobody wants to be addicted. It is a difficult process.
His first sobriety happened in 1990. Kevin had a spiritual awakening at that time, that lasted for 8 years before he relapsed again. At that time, he got a promotion he worked at IBM. He worked for corporate security in a high position. He was doing very well. His youngest son was born at that time. He thought he was invincible. His words. He thought he had this all under control and started to go back out again and actively using cocaine. It took 15 months for him to lose everything. Kevin thought that he can just have a little bit and he is going to be ok. It did not work. He tells me that to this day that is a greatest lie he told himself.
He told himself: “look at you, look how good you are doing, you can have a little”.
It was a loophole for him, and he relapsed. He knows the signs now very well; it helps him when he works with others. Kevin just attended a community event last night and telling me that people are dying of addiction. Not in small numbers he tells me. I asked Kevin how many times he relapsed. He told me too many to count. He would sober up for 3 months or 4 months or 6 months and relapse again. Now he is been sober for 3 years. Kevin’s addiction took him to prison twice. He has a felony record. He feels it is remarkable that he was able to get a federal job and able to help others. Kevin tells me that for him there was a point he knew that he can never go back, it’s been a long battle, he knows if he would go back again, he would die. He heard this voice just as clear as he is talking to me know. He knew that either the drugs or the lifestyle would kill him. He felt the seriousness of this, he put himself in harm’s way before. This time he knew it is his last chance to get sober.
The first time Kevin went to prison it was for 20 months he got out in a year and a half. He violated a personal protective order and the judge told him he is not getting it and sent him to prison. He got home, he did well for 2 months then got back to his addictive behavior. Not even in a year he was back in prison. The second time he was accompanying someone who was breaking into a home and he got 2.5–3 years in prison.
I asked Kevin how his prison experience was, because by this time I talked to many people who told me that they were happy when their loved one was in prison at least they know that they were safe and not using drugs. Kevin was laughing when I asked him. Once he stopped laughing Kevin told me that the first time, he went to prison he was angry and blaming his mother who called the cops on him. He tells me he would be crying in prison and did not wanted to feel like this about his own mother. It did not happen for a while. It took months. Then he tells me one day he was sitting in his cell. Kevin’s voice changed here he was excited, like making a discovery. I knew something good was coming.
He heard a voice telling him: “listen if you were going to a stranger’s home at night at any hour of a night beg them to give you money wouldn’t that be stalking?”
He realized that the answer is yes, then he asked himself, so then why isn’t it stalking when it comes to his mother? Kevin realized that he put his mother in a situation where she thought the only option, she had was to call the police. Kevin accepted what had happened. He tells me that first when people go to prison, they blame their family, they blame someone, they feel betrayed, there is a lot of anger. He feels that people are so disconnected from feelings at that time that they do not want to take ownership of what had happened to them. He changes his tone and he sounds like a teacher now. He tells me that addiction is a selfish disease. People don’t understand while in it how much they hurt others.
He tells me people have to be selfish to be addicted. He now looks back and knows that his family never turned their backs, they were enablers and he believe they were ecstatic when he went to prison, they knew that he was safe, and they were safe. Looking back, he feels it was absolutely a good thing that he ended up in prison. He met a pastor in prison who was his polar opposite, he talks about him with a lot of compassion and love. Kevin was a young black man; the pastor was an older white man. He made a great impression on Kevin, how he cared about others, how he carried himself, the humility he had. Kevin keeps in touch with him still today. Now he works with people in prison and act as a mentor, providing support for them. Kevin received much help to be able to be where he is today. He feels that it is important for him to turn around and provide as much help to others as possible.
Sometimes people don’t know that they need help.
I asked Kevin how he stopped using. He tells me that he put himself in a situation where he was robbed and beaten. He speaks a little slower now remembering what happened. It was people who he knew, it was all a set up. It was his sub circle of people; he had a large amount of money on him. He was furious, he was telling himself things like he is going to go kill them, and he talked himself out of things. He did not want to go back to prison. He slept on it, woke up the next morning, and realized he needs to quit to be ok. It was not immediate. In about 2 months he needed surgery, but the surgeon told him he cannot do the operation with cocaine in his system. There was a risk of him dying on the operating table. He was living on the streets at this time, by choice. He heard the voice inside his head asking him again: “Do you want to die? You will die if you keep continuing with this addiction”. He decided he did not want to die. The way he tells me this both he and I burst out in laughing. Death is not supposed to be funny, the topic is certainly not funny, but the way he said it, I wish you could hear his voice. We laughed for a while. It gave a moment of pause and release of energy while we were talking. That was the last time he used cocaine. He had his operation and started over. He stopped smoking cigarettes, he changed his life around from his diet to exercise, he did a complete shift. He runs a mile every day.
I asked Kevin how did he make the change, who he called for help? He had relatives and he was staying with his sister through this time. He had a long road ahead of him. The biggest thing he had to re learn was how to handle money. He did not want to have more than 20 dollars on him even 20-dollar bill as a previous addict can be the worst thing to have. Addiction can get started again. He needed to learn how to go to the store and buy things that he needed like deodorant, razors, pay a cell phone bill, just to do small things. He put up a stop sign, created an accountability team around him, call him out on his “BS”. This is what he did. He started working, got back to his fraternity and went back to church. He is now involved with his community doing at least 2 community events a month, he is mentoring a 7th grader, he believes in giving back the gifts and tools that God gave.
I ask him about cravings. He has not had any. Kevin tells me about his job, he used to work for the VA before he lost his job. About 3 years ago he tried to get a job back, but he was denied because of his background. He was upset, but he understood. Another job came up 6 months later. He talked to them and told them he just went through this process he wanted to make sure he was eligible before applying. He got the call that he was. 2 months later he found out that the job offer was rescinded. Kevin got back to a real dark place then. He was contemplating suicide. Before he opened the denial letter, he went to pick up some Chinese food and went to his sister’s house. After reading the letter, he knew he wanted to go use cocaine. He talked himself out of it by eating first. Then Kevin tells me he was sitting there contemplating, he heard his voice again: “if you go out on that door, you will never come back again”. He decided to pick up the phone and call a peer support specialist who he was in training with. He used every tool he had learned to make sure he does not do something he would regret later. Kevin tells me just think about that I almost went out and used and tried to kill myself because I did not get a job offer.
Kevin just lost his friend of 50 years recently and he is very grateful that he was able to be at the funeral, support his friends’ family thought he process. Kevin has been very successful and has been able to provide housing and other supports for veterans and people coming out of jail. I asked Kevin what addiction for him is. He paused. He told me people have been trying to define addiction so long.
Kevin defines addiction: to engage in a daily lifestyle that prevent him from enjoying life.
Making a choice to give up being a father, son, brother, husband, and to be the most anti-law obeying social person he could be. Every day he made this choice. His job was to get high. That is the only thing existed. We took a pause for a moment. I was not sure what to say, it was just kind of soaking in for a second. Then I told him I would sure love that if everyone would have the little voice in their head that he had. He laughed. Kevin kept laughing, then he told me that the funny part is that we do we just don’t listen to it. He tells me he heard the voice so many times before, but he did not listen to it. So many times. He describes his experiences while using as insane. He just made a choice to stop. He laughs again. Kevin had a great laughter. He just made a decision that if he can stop the drugs he can stop smoking too. He was able to make good choices.
Kevin feels that society drives on addiction.
He tells me that people in America want instantly what pleases us. He is in Detroit; Michigan and he recalls a big thing about bringing casinos there. Everybody was against it because people knew what is coming with a casino. America has the strongest consumers Kevin asserts. He is upset by this. Kevin describes addiction as a 100-billion-dollar enterprise in America. He feels this will never go away; it is too much money people make on addiction. Again, it is all about money. It is sad especially when so many lives are lost, and families torn apart.
Kevin feels like society has a moral responsibility. If there is no moral responsibility, then we can never have a humanitarian responsibility. He tells me about policies and legislations and that people can never execute a legislation to eradicate moral injustice; and brings up addiction treatment. Kevin recalls that addiction treatment used to be 18 months now you ae lucky if you get 30 days. You know he tells me that even 60 or 90 days does nothing. The brains need much longer time to recover at least a year. That is a minimum Kevin tells me. He sounds upset.
People need a chance to get better.
We are sending people to rehab to 30 or 60 days he tells me when we know it does not work. The data is overwhelming in both qualitative and quantitative studies that that is a flawed policy. Now, unfortunately it all depends on what the individual and the family can do. This is very hard because those who have low socio-economic status, don’t have the resources to get help. The more money someone has the more resources they can get. The inner cities, the major metropolitan areas like the Detroit’s, New York, New Orleans, Chicago people don’t have the resources. It impacts the whole family. He starts to tell me about the opiate epidemic as an example. There is policy to combat this because it reached places where it was never thought that it could go. It is everywhere. It is not just the stereotypical anymore, we are talking about moms, surgeons, pilots, young high school kids. Increased use in 16–25-year-old white population male and female.
We agree it is all about money. Some people are making money while destroying other people and their families.
Kevin describes the United States other than the Roman empire as a greedy capitalistic society that is the worse in the history of mankind. He tells me nobody wants to stop the drugs it is money. We have to step up as individuals and support others in wellness, by providing education and support throughout the communities. He tells me that there used to be a time when we knew our neighbors. Now people are afraid of people and we have to eliminate that fear. Kevin feels that we need to get back into being a more social society. Now we are a violent anti-social society.
Kevin tells me about his family. He has 3 children and 4 grandchildren. He makes effort to keep connected with them. He tells me that it is very rewarding to be an active part of society. He tries to be connected and do his part. He tells me we all just need to do our part. He is making sure he does his part. What else we could do he asks? Is there anything else we could do? How else we could make things better? Kevin is being very open with his family sharing his experiences about addiction. He talked to his kids about having an addictive gene as a possibility. He talked to his kids telling them not to even try anything, asking them to trust him. He feels like there is a lack of common courtesy in our society today, lack of saying things like excuse me, please and thank you. I made Kevin chuckle again by bringing up my magic wand question.
Kevin, if he would have a magic wand, he would make addiction awareness education mandatory in our school system. Continuous education in each grade. He tells me it needs to be upfront, the data, the reality, it needs to be ugly, it needs to be real. Kevin had watched individuals drink themselves to death. He feels kids to know how long a physiological recovery can take if a person is even able to recover.
No one is removed from it anymore.
It has touched every household in America in some shape or form. Very true. Kevin tells me face it, in this country people will always have the option to use illicit drugs because the demand for it is so high.
Thank you for reading,
Dancing Elephants Press
Let’s jump out of the box together. Supporting connection, positivity, joy, hope, caring for each other and the…
This book is dedicated to the memory of
Bagóczky József my uncle who died at age 19 — alcohol related car accident
and to everyone else who has been hurt or lost related to addiction
Many people had been supportive and inspiring to me so I could create this book. Both of my wonderful children told me, just write that book mom. My mom. I could have not done this without all the stories provided and the encouragement love and caring from my family and friends, nurses, doctors, counselors, teachers, professors, friends who are dealing with addiction and staying sober; and children, wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers of people who are dealing with addiction currently. Thank you for speaking up, sharing your stories and life experiences. Thank you for all the people who read this book while in progress to provide feedback, ideas and encouragement for me to continue writing. I would like to say special thanks to my friends and family for believing me and encouraging me to go on.
Front cover acrylic painting created by Andrea Mihaly October 2019
Our Society: Addiction and More Uncovered. Hear the voices of everyday people — collection of stories and experiences.
Copyright @ 2020. 1st addition on Amazon KDP. 2nd addition Jan 2021 Barnes & Noble. By Dr. Gabriella Kőrösi. All rights reserved. Dancing Elephants Press.